How to receive credit card payments online

Setting yourself up to take online card payments benefits not only your customers but your business, too.

From choosing a payment method and getting started, to what you need to know about security and costs – read on to find out more about accepting online card payments.

How to take credit card payments online

How to take credit card payments online

First, you’ll need to decide how you’ll accept and process your online card payments. There are a few different options available, including:

Which one is best will depend on the needs of you and your business (more on this later).

How to set up online credit card processing

Whichever method you choose, you’ll need a way of processing online credit card payments from your customers. You can either set this up yourself – which means you’ll need to arrange a payment gateway and merchant account separately – or you can use an all-in-one provider who will do it for you. Each option has it’s pros and cons, which we’ll explore now.

Processing credit card payments online using a merchant provider

A merchant provider – also known as an all-in-one or full-service provider – makes accepting card payments online a breeze. They provide a merchant account, a payment gateway and a virtual terminal - all you need to run an e-commerce store!

Like the simplicity of using an all-in-one provider? Here’s what you need to know:


  • You only need one point of contact
  • Set-up is quick and easy
  • Pricing is usually simpler
  • PCI compliance and security will be taken care of by your provider


  • Your provider will typically charge you either a percentage of each payment or a fixed cost per transaction – as well as a monthly fee for some added features

How to process credit cards online by yourself

You may prefer to do it yourself, but it may be a little more complicated.

To start, you’ll need to set up a merchant account. This is an online bank account which temporarily holds your customers’ payments while they’re approved by their bank.

Broadly speaking, there are two different types of merchant accounts – ones that are dedicated solely to your business, and aggregated accounts (e.g. those provided by Paypal) that use a single account to provide payment processing for multiple businesses.

If you choose the former, it’s worth noting that your merchant account doesn’t need to be with the same bank as your business account.

Then, you’ll need to set up a payment gateway to connect your website to a payment processing network. It’ll ask for your customers’ card details, then submit the charge – almost like an online card machine.

Want to take the DIY route? Here are some things to consider before choosing this option:


  • You’re in control of which merchant account and payment gateway you use, so you can shop around to find the right platforms for you
  • Some providers will offer competitive transaction fees or waiver setup fees


  • It’ll take time to set everything up yourself
  • Once you’re up and running, you’ll need to continue to invest time in managing your transactions across multiple platforms
  • You’re responsible for security and will need to pay any relevant fees to the platform providers
  • Not all providers will work together, so you may be limited on options
  • With an aggregated account, you will usually experience a longer settlement period

How to secure credit card transactions online

Whether you decide to go it alone or use a merchant provider, it’s important to consider security – for both yourself and your customers. The good news? Features like 3D Secure – an anti-fraud measure used by major credit card providers – gives you a base level of security for your online payments.

Which method of taking payments online is right for me?

Read on to discover more about each.

Payment gateway

A payment gateway lets you facilitate and authorise card payments on your business’ website. It’s a simple and secure way to receive your customers’ card details and accept payment, once sufficient funds have been recognised.

Virtual terminal

A virtual terminal is an online payment system that allows businesses to accept payments over the phone. It works via an internet-connected computer, laptop or mobile device. Multiple users can access it at no extra cost, which makes it great if your business is likely to expand.

Pay by Link

Pay by Link is a feature that generates a secure link to send to your customers via email, social media and other messaging platforms. All they need to do is click on the link and they’ll be taken to a payment page to complete their transaction. It comes with both payment gateways and virtual terminals.

What are the benefits of receiving card payments online?

87% of UK retail purchases are now made online. Here’s why it pays to accept online card transactions:

  • It's a quick and secure method of payment for both you and your customers
  • It’s fast and simple to set up
  • It offers your customers another way to buy from you, making you more accessible
  • You can take payments 24/7
  • It expands your sales reach, allowing you to move from local store to national company


What are the benefits of receiving card payments online?

How much does processing online card payments cost?

How much does processing online card payments cost?

The exact cost of processing your online card payments will depend on which method you use, and which all-in-one merchant provider (if any) you choose. Generally speaking, these are the types of fees you might pay:

  • Monthly fees
  • One-off fees
  • Transaction fees
  • Virtual terminal rental fees
  • Payment gateway fees
  • Merchant fees

Read our guide to credit card processing fees for more information.

Next steps

Want to find out more about what online payment options could help you and your business? Get in touch with us today.

Date Published: 21/09/2020


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